With the sounding of the
seventh trumpet "there were great voices in heaven." (Rev. 11:15)
These voices declare that "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms
of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
Obviously this is talking about the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Yet
the book of Revelation doesn't end here. Not only does Revelation not end
here it continues with describing evil beasts – in chapter 13 - which arise
out of the sea and earth. Does Christ in His reign network with evil beasts?
I would think not! We would expect that Christ’s reign would do away with
all evil. Therefore we must conclude that Chapter 1l is not describing
events in chronological order.
Revelation 10:7 predicted that the seventh trumpet would usher in the finishing of the mystery of God. That finishing of the mystery of God most certainly involves Jesus Christ in His role as King. It can be expected that Christ’s reign as King would bring evil to an end. We could also expect that the coming of the millennium kingdom is good news, so why does John speak of this seventh trumpet as a third woe in 11:14?
The term "woe" calls our attention to being prepared. We assume we're prepared because we know that Jesus will return, and we have a well defined theology which spells out the how and when of His return. However the very fact that this is referred to as a third woe indicates that there will be those who aren’t prepared. Israel of the Old Testament also considered themselves prepared. They knew the Messiah was coming. But when He came they didn't receive Him. They knew the how, when, and where but concluded that He needed to do certain things to fulfill the role of The Messiah. Because Jesus didn’t fit into the who and what of their theology He was rejected. Will we be found making the same mistake? Our eschatology focuses on the how, when, and where of His return. So we assume that because we’ve heard and read volumes on this subject we now know and understand the who. So when He comes and doesn’t fulfill our agenda, will we reject Him?
"But that’s not a problem", You say, "Because Jesus will rapture all Christians. So obviously those who experience the rapture will know Him."
If that’s your answer, I think you missed my point: You see the “rapture” teaching deals with the how. So what if Jesus doesn’t fulfill that particular “how” according to your theology. Will you then conclude that He is not the one you look for? So I’ll say it again: We assume that because we know the how we are now prepared for Him. However our eschatology may have programmed us to have certain expectations that are not Biblically sound.
It’s true: “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.” (Rev.11:15) Revelation 10:7 tells us that the mystery of God comes to completion with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. So the previous six trumpets are preparatory and build up to this final trumpet. Therefore the trumpets herald events that are important for the Church to understand in order that she might be prepared for her Bridegroom and King. This is especially true in regard to the three woes. They are important briefings for the Churches preparation to reign with Christ. Stop and reflect on, as well as consider what we have studied. In the second woe the believer is brought to the place where he learns to flow in the anointing. Flowing in that anointing is a prerequisite to reigning. If I fight God's Holy Spirit and His two witnesses at the present time, how can I then claim to be prepared for reigning in His kingdom? Let me ask the question another way: If I teach and preach that healing the sick is not part of His kingdom, can I then consider myself as promoting His kingdom?
Allow me to sharpen the focus even more. Dispensational theology projects the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of Christ through cataclysmic catastrophe. Hebrews 9:26 declares that Jesus appeared once to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Did Jesus come and give himself as a sacrifice for sin? Yes He did! When did He do so? About two thousand years ago! Conclusion: Jesus has appeared to put away sin. Hebrews 11:28 goes on to declare that He will appear the second time unto salvation. Tell me is cataclysmic catastrophe also salvation? (Study Romans 8:18-23)
When Christ’s reign begins the 24 elders worship God. That worship includes this phrase: "Lord God Almighty", who is, who was, (and who is to come)." (Literal rendering of v17. There is a possibility that the third part of this triplet was not in the original text, so I bracketed it.) If the longer reading is accepted here, this is the fourth time this phrase is used in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 1:4; 1:8; 4:8) Is the phrase to be understood literally, figuratively, metaphorically or a combination of all three?
Some questions are in order! Why is the Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega, addressed like this? The one who is, and the one who was may not be that difficult to understand, for it describes God in His eternal existence. But why is He repeatedly referred to as the one who is coming? If this were speaking of Jesus Christ returning in His exalted state the phrase would then be easier to understand. However the text of 1:4 spells out that this is said of God, for in 1:4 Jesus Christ is named separately. So does God Himself want to take up residence on this earth? If so, why? And if God is coming to take up residence here why are Christians so anxious to leave this earth? I ask the questions, but I'm not sure about the answers. Thus it serves to illustrate a previous point: i. e. We don't really know Him or His agenda.
However, I do see a significance in the way God is addressed here. To better understand this triplet, we must look at the Old Testament triplet: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Old Testament triplet points to God as one, but without emphasis on number. The emphasis is on sameness, never changing, relative to; as well as involved in each generation. In the Old Testament the triplet stresses God’s relevance to generational history. This is also true for the Revelation title, but then goes beyond that to also present God as the Eternal "I AM". In Genesis the phrase draws attention to God’s dealings with successive generations. In Revelation that generational involvement gives way to millennial involvement. A very strong indication that God can never be written out of the world’s history.
Let us consider the God of this millennial history. We will find that His involvement in that history has profound significance for the future.
As the “God Who Was” we have the record of the Old Testament. He revealed Himself to succeeding generations. His revelation of Himself spanned Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s generations. That revelation became more glorious in each generation. (Note Ex. 6:3) As the God who was He called Abraham. He established Israel as a nation. He led her out of Egyptian bondage. He established a covenant with her. He promised her a Messiah. As a Jew John was intimately familiar with that history.
However John was an eye witness to a revelation that presented God as the “God Who Is”. John had watched Jesus as He revealed the “God Who Is”. Jesus became the personification and fulfillment of all the Old Testament revelation. In that fulfillment God’s glory so intensifies that it totally eclipses the first revelation of Himself. John describes his eye witness account of that revelation as inspecting, experiencing, and handling the Word of life. (1 John 1:1) Jesus revealed God as Father. Through Jesus redemption is made available to all people. Jesus becomes the head of a new covenant people, which includes all races: The Church. The Church experienced this “God Who Is” in the gift of the promised Holy Spirit. An event that established the Church as Christ’s body.
Given those two dimensions of the Revelation triplet, can you imagine the glory that will be revealed in the third - namely: “The One Who Is To Come”? Yet many theologians project a portion of that third dimension to include a holocaust unprecedented in all of history. Tell me, what kind of a Father does that project God to be? Since the first two dimensions where ascending steps of glory, the third dimension can only be something that follows the pattern set by the first two. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. (Matt. 5:17) In like manner the third step in this triplet presents God as The One that will fulfill everything He promised. Given the first and second steps of the triplet which where glorious, the third must also be GLORIOUS!
That glory comes into focus with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. God as the "I am" – He who reveals Himself as the coming one - takes to Himself the right to reign. That reign is given in summary in verses 18 and 19, but the details of it are given in the chapters that follow. The mystery of God’s kingdom will now become reality on earth. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet we move into the realm of experiencing the revelation of the third dimension of the triplet.
In verse 18 God’s reign is summarized as God calling men into account for their action. The nations anger meets with God's wrath! Unfortunately when we think of God's wrath we think in terms of our own wrath, not God's. Because of this we have projected God confronting humanity with a satanically inspired holocaust like the world has never before witnessed. However God’s wrath IS NOT and should never be assumed to be the same as ours. Human wrath is most often selfishly and sinfully motivated. God’s wrath is always righteous. In the present context God’s wrath causes Him to rule –i.e. pass judgement - in favor of His saints. When God rules or judges in favor of someone or something it of necessity puts that which He has not favored in very bad light. So it is in this verse. The saints experience the positive side of God’s wrath: He rules in favor of His servants: they are rewarded. However that of necessity means all others experience the negative side of God’s wrath. That is also referenced in this verse. On the negative side those that destroy the earth are said to be destroyed. When He who is Life withdraws His support destruction is inevitable. However we must keep in mind that God in His wrath does not abuse man. God told Adam: "in the day you eat thereof you will die". God did not say to Adam: ‘In the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil I will kill you.’ If God would say and act in such a fashion he could be charged with abuse. God’s word repeatedly warns us about our conduct, and the consequences of our conduct. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet God no longer shields us from experiencing the immediate results of our actions. So be warned: if you deal in destruction, destruction will be your reward. What you sow you will reap! Do you want to reap what you’re sowing? If you want to have a good harvest, you’ll have to plant good seed.
Verse 19 enlarges on the positive side of God's wrath. First of all it states that the temple of God is open in heaven, and all in heaven see the ark of His testament. Remember the Church is seated with Christ in the heavenlies. She is destined to experience what John describes. The sixth trumpet informed us about the two witnesses and their ascent to heaven. Those events prepare the saints for the open temple and the unveiling of the ark of God's testament. Thus with the sounding of the seventh trumpet the full revelation of God’s covenant becomes known to the saints. God’s covenant with the Church moves from mystery into history.
As we experience these events it will be gloriously awesome. Remember, the breaking of the seventh seal was followed by half an hour of silence.(8:1) The silence testifies to the splendor of the experience. In John 10:7 we are told that the seventh trumpet declares the time when the mystery of God is to be completed. He that is to come, now takes to Himself the right to reign. The ark of God's testament is open and exposed to all those who are in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. What will that really be like? John summaries the glory of this event by saying "there were lightings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." These words testify to a totally new experience and understanding of God. An understanding and experience that can only be referenced by the experience Adam had in the garden.
Remember Revelation 11:15-19 is a summary of the events announced by the seventh trumpet. As we continue our study of Revelation we are given the details of the events described here in summary. However we need to remember that we were introduced to the eternal "I am". Therefore the details which follow are given from God's perspective. So we will now be shown history in three dimensions. Revelation 12 deals with that which is. In Revelation 13 we are shown that which was. That which is to come is revealed in Revelation 14 and following.